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Machinery Pete: Just 33 hours

GREG PETERSON 03/19/2013 @ 4:27pm Greg Peterson writes "Machinery Pete" column for Successful Farming magazine and appears on the Machinery Show on RFD-TV, talking about trends in the used equipment market

A 1991 John Deere 4455 tractor with 33 hours recently sold for $155,000.

“And now, the rest of the story.”

If you -- like me -- grew up listening to the radio, I bet you heard that phrase countless times in the friendly daily chats with radio host Paul Harvey. His program was syndicated on radio stations throughout the country. I miss Harvey and his show. He passed away in 2009.

So now for the “rest of the story” on this 1991 Deere 4455 with frontwheel drive and 33 hours that recently sold for $155,000.

It didn’t sell at auction.

It sold privately by a well-known John Deere collector in rural New York to a buyer from Mexico. Kevin Sykes from Oriskany Falls, New York, was the seller.

Sykes is known far and wide to auction crowds as a serious bidder on very low-hour Deere tractors in exceptional condition.

He was way ahead of his time in seeing years ago how certain models of used Deere tractors with very low hours would appreciate in value as they aged.

“I bought the tractor from a doctor in Michigan,” Sykes told me.

“He bought it new in 1992 and intended to use it, but he had small kids, and it just sat in the shed. I bought it from him in 1994 with 1.8 hours on it for $58,000.”

Sykes then parked the 4455 in his beautiful climate-controlled shed. There it sat, until late 2012, when he decided it was finally time to try and sell it. The hours had skyrocketed to 33 by now, so it was basically a 21-year-old brand-new tractor.


A Mexican buyer

An Internet advertisement was placed, and the phone rang. A large farm operation owner from Mexico was interested. He was willing to pay the asking price of $155,000. So the transaction began, and Sykes waited for the funds to clear.

The next day, a gentleman from Canada called about the tractor. “Do you still have that JD 4455?” the guy from north of the border asked.

“I just sold it yesterday to a buyer from Mexico,” Sykes replied.

“No, I mean do you still have it?” came the response from the Canadian.

“Well, yes, it’s still here,” said Sykes.

“I’ll be there tomorrow,” said the Canada caller. canadian buyer with $175,000 in cash!

The next day, the Canadian flew his private jet to rural New York and drove out to Sykes’s place with a briefcase. In the briefcase was $175,000 in cash.

He wanted that 4455.

Sykes’s brother (who farms and also buys and sells tractors with Sykes) has a background working for the FBI. The brother wasn’t feeling good about the whole briefcase full of cash thing.

Because Sykes is a man of his word, he informed the man from Canada that he was sorry, but he’d agreed to sell it to the gentleman from Mexico.

Done deal. Sold for $155,000.

But that’s not the end of this tractor tale. Days later, Sykes was prepping the 4455 with 33 hours to ship to the buyer from Mexico. Naturally, he was concerned with how the tractor was packed to transport, so he called the buyer from Mexico to ask if he had any special instructions for transport, any special little things he could do to protect the paint.

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